First off, I would like to thank my friend Dan for letting me set up shop here for a time. I have known Dan for a long time and we went to high school together. I also know he is an excellent writer in his own right, so while you’re here you might want to check out some of his work.
One of the things that we writers get asked all of the time is where do we get our stories? I guess that people who write dramas and stuff that doesn’t make people jump or look over their shoulders in the night or think sexy thoughts don’t get this question as much, but perhaps they do. I write thrillers, suspense, and horror novels and people are often baffled by the stories I write.
I once had a friend, upon hearing the description of the story I was writing, ask me why I didn’t write about bunnies, puppies or flowers. I said, unless the flowers were poisonous or the bunnies and puppies rabid, the story didn’t interest me. Sadly, that’s true.
As for where the stories come, well, they come from a variety of things. I cannot point a young writer to a specific place to find story ideas or ideas for novels. There is no story idea store or website. So, where do they come from? I can only say, keep your eyes and ears open and if you are truly a writer, the ideas will come.
Sometimes they take years to fully manifest. I have had story ideas kick around and around inside my head for ten years before I finally knew their story. I leave myself open to my stories and often feel more like a conduit that a creator. The characters, essentially, tell me their tales and sometimes I end up as surprised as the readers.
Sometimes the stories come from news articles. I have had a few novels that came from that. Sometimes TV shows or articles I read provide the inspiration. Sometimes they just happen. My idea for the novel After the Snowfall came in the middle of summer while I was out walking my dog and thought back to a severe snowstorm that had hit that prior winter. I had a clear image of three man, little more than shapes, on the horizon walking down the middle of the snow covered road. I knew that they were evil, but what kind, I was not sure. That came later.
I rarely work from outlines, although I do sometimes create character bibles, or lists, so I can keep everyone straight. I have ideas about the story, but rarely know exactly how to get to the end. The adventure for me is writing that I also hope the reader follows and enjoys. I open this tiny door in side my brain and the story is just there.
It is something that has always just sort of happened with me. I cannot tell you how I developed it other than I just kept writing. I have written hundreds of short stories and wrote my first novel, long-hand, in high school. None of them ever saw publication, but I did it anyway. That is the only way to nurture that muscle so it works when you need it.
My most recent novel, The Lightning Weaver, is the first in a series. The idea for the story actually came from my wife who once mentioned that she had, several times, had lightning strike near her. She called herself a lightning bringer and mentioned that might be a good idea for a story. It stayed in my head for years and developed over time. I soon realized that the character in the story had to actually manipulate lightning instead of just attracting it. Thus, she was more of a “weaver” than a “bringer.” I also created a world around it, developed future stories and, thus, The Elementals series was born.
So, keep your eyes and ears open. Those ideas can come from anywhere. You just need to be able to listen and hear them and have a brain that’s open to them. After that, you just need to have the passion to tell a story.
You can buy copies of Bryan Alaspa’s new novel, The Lightning Weaver, in print and ebook format here: http://bryanwalaspa.com/books/the-lightning-weaver-the-elementals-part-one/
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